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Orders of the Day — European Assembly Elections Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th July 1977.

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Mr. Alan Lee Williams:

Those of us who have argued the case for European integration have never denied that it would imply some loss of parliamentary sovereignty. I do not find that such a terrifying prospect that I need apologise to the House for it. The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) evoked memories of Hitler, Marxism and Bolshevism in raising the spectre of federalism. He was over-icing the cake. This modest Bill gives effect only to some tentative steps towards democratisation of the European Community itself.

For the purposes of the debate, I have been looking at various articles written by people who have been concerned in the last 15 years with integration. Herman Kahn, back in the 1960s, erected 88 possible European futures. The late Alastair Buchan erected six different possible European futures, It is interesting that not one of these possible futures included federalism. There is more to the argument than that, and I believe that the opponents of integration have concentrated on federalism because they feel that this is the way in which they can somehow or another frighten the British people into believing that their sovereignty, in the real sense, will be lost.

I believe firmly that if the European Assembly can have an infusion of real authority, which a directly elected Assembly will give it, it will be possible for parliamentary democracy to be extended in Europe.

Difficulties arise now over the unaccountable power that is undoubtedly held by bureaucrats, and everyone agrees that this is wrong. I would argue this case in respect of the Commission. Indeed, I would argue it in respect of the Council of Ministers, which is in no real sense accountable to this place. It is an illusion for hon. Members on either side to imagine that the Council of Ministers is really answerable to Parliament. Only in the most theoretical sense is that so. We know that in reality this is not the case.

It seems to me, therefore, that this timid, modest Bill is a step in the right direction, so that we can democratise Europe and, above all, move forward to integration, and ultimately, I believe—I make no apology for this—towards a democratic federal Europe.